Adam Lind Injury: Updates on Blue Jays DH’s Foot and Return

It was bad enough news for the Toronto Blue Jays when Edwin Encarnacion went to the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps, but Shi Davidi of Sportsnet updated fans with even more disappointment Wednesday regarding Adam Lind:

Lind has been a productive member of the Blue Jays lineup all season and sports a .320 batting average with four home runs and 27 RBI. Now that he is going to miss significant time, Toronto’s lineup has two gaping holes in it going forward.

Surprisingly enough, it was actually Lind's mother who got the ball rolling on the diagnosis of this injury, via Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com:

Scott MacArthur of TSN provided something of a potential silver lining to the situation:

It will certainly be interesting to see if the Blue Jays make any moves to compensate for this recent attrition as the trade deadline approaches, because they have a serious chance to win the American League East. 

The typically dominant Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have struggled this season, so the Blue Jays find themselves in second place within striking distance of the Baltimore Orioles.

Losing Lind certainly hurts the Jays' chances at reaching the postseason, but it may just spur them to make a move. Stay tuned for more updates as they develop.

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MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz Surrounding Cardinals, Red Sox, Padres and More

The sports world may be holding its breath in anticipation of the World Cup final and LeBron James’ impending decision, but baseball's hot-stove season is right around the corner.

That means rumors and speculation are running rampant as the contenders begin to establish themselves as legitimate World Series threats. With so many teams still in striking distance of a postseason appearance, expect a number of moves before the calendar turns to August. 

With that in mind, let’s dig into some of the latest MLB rumors.

 

Jake Peavy on the Market? 

Peter Gammons and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien described the latest on the potential pursuit of pitcher Jake Peavy:

There was once a time in Peavy’s career that he was a front-of-the-rotation starter, but he has been fairly inconsistent for Boston this season. He sports a 4.64 ERA in 18 starts and has a disappointing 1-7 record. The WHIP of 1.44 and the batting average against of .273 don’t exactly spin tales of a dominant pitcher either.

Still, there is something to be said for his experience and veteran guile in a pennant race, which could be why the Cardinals are interested.

What’s more, given the attrition with the pitching staff, Peavy makes sense as a possible option for St. Louis. It needs quality arms if it wants to keep up with the Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Central. 

The Braves, on the other hand, can afford to stand pat and possibly wait for better options.

 

Padres Asking Price High?

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times pointed out that the San Diego Padres will be asking for a lot in return if you plan on dealing for some of their productive pieces:

As he notes, there aren’t a lot of sellers in the market as we get into the thick of July. There are only nine teams in the entire league that are double-digit games out of first place entering play Wednesday, and two of those squads are exactly 10 games back.

The Padres likely saw the boatload of prospects the Chicago Cubs received back for Jeff Samardzija and got excited about their position as one of the few sellers on the market.

Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street may not be front-of-the-line starters, but they are both incredibly valuable pieces in a bullpen. Benoit has a 1.91 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and is a strikeout machine, while Street boasts 23 saves and 1.13 ERA. 

A contender that is desperate for bullpen depth would likely overpay to land the quality pieces the Padres are offering.

 

Boston Looking to Lock Up Jon Lester?

Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston filled fans in on the latest news from the negotiations between the Red Sox and ace Jon Lester:

The Boston Red Sox are continuing "conversations" that could lead to another offer to free-agent-to-be Jon Lester, according to a major league source.

Presumably, those conversations are taking place at the ownership level, at which Boston's big-money decisions are always made. The source, however, said he wouldn't make any predictions regarding the outcome.

Boston offered Lester a four-year, $70 million deal in the spring, but that was significantly under market value for someone of his stature.

He has a 2.73 ERA and has continued to thrive while the team squanders. In fact, it is Boston’s struggles that make this such an intriguing situation because it could really use an ace like Lester if it hopes to bounce back and return to the playoffs next year.

Lester is also 30 years old, so there figures to be at least a few years of elite-level pitching in the tank if he stays healthy.

Peavy commented on the situation surrounding his teammate, via Edes:

This is somebody I'm very emotionally attached to. Jon, we'll be friends for life. We love each other. Kinfolk we are. Me speaking on his behalf, that needs to be understood.

I love the Boston Red Sox and respect everybody, but my heart and soul is with Jon Lester. This guy is as good as anybody in the game right now.

Lester’s been a dominant force when it's mattered most during his career (6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 11 postseason starts and 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in the World Series) and is a fan favorite in Boston. 

Eventually, the Red Sox will likely make the contract terms work.

 

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Home Run Derby 2014: Breaking Down Biggest Sleeper Participants

Sluggers Giancarlo Stanton, Yoenis Cespedes and Jose Bautista are all part of the 2014 Home Run Derby.

Big surprise.

American League captain Bautista selected Cespedes, Adam Jones and Brian Dozier, while National League captain Troy Tulowitzki chose Stanton, Yasiel Puig and Todd Frazier. All eight participants hit from the right side of the plate, which is likely a testament to Target Field’s pitcher-friendly dimensions in right and right-center field.

Each team will receive an addition fifth member Thursday.

Casual baseball fans who are used to the game’s most prolific sluggers in the Home Run Derby may be a bit confused to see that Frazier and Dozier are competing, but there is a reason these under-the-radar candidates are part of the field. 

Let’s dig into a few more details on the sleepers of the event.

 

Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

Dozier’s selection was no doubt influenced by the fact that the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game will take place in Minnesota. After all, these types of events are for the fans, so credit Bautista for the pick.

That Dozier is a second baseman who stands at less than 6’0" only makes this more of a Cinderella story. 

Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com and Parker Hageman of Twins Daily offered Dozier’s response to the selection and a tidbit for his batting practice pitcher:

Dozier will become the sixth Minnesota Twin of all time to compete in the Home Run Derby, joining the likes of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Torii Hunter, Gary Gaetti and Tom Brunansky. Morneau famously won the event in old Yankee Stadium in 2008 in a contest that will always be remembered for Josh Hamilton’s power display in the early rounds.

Dozier has to be considered a candidate to win this thing because of his familiarity with the stadium. In fact, nine of his 16 home runs entering play Tuesday came at Target Field, and he has a particular affinity for driving the ball down the left field line.

He will be able to avoid the deep caverns in right-center field and stay in contention.

Dozier’s 16 home runs were tied for 12th in the American League entering play Tuesday, but his 31 homers since June 16 of last season are an impressive 15th in the majors. 

If nothing else, he will have the home crowd behind him as he puts on a show.

 

Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds

Frazier was chosen for his first All-Star Game this year in addition to this honor, and his 17 home runs were good enough for fifth place in the National League entering Tuesday’s action. 

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports thinks Frazier just may take the whole thing:

Frazier will become the eighth different Cincinnati Red to compete in the event, joining Dave Parker (who won the first one in 1985), Eric Davis, Chris Sabo, Paul O'Neill, Ron Gant, Reggie Sanders and Ken Griffey Jr.

He certainly seemed pleased with his selection, via C. Trent Rosecrans of Cincinnati.com:

It's pretty cool. I'd like to thank Tulowitzki for even considering me. It's going to be a lot of fun, especially making the All-Star team, and now there's even more excitement the day before. Hopefully I don't put a goose egg up there, hopefully I can represent a little bit.

Perhaps adding to Frazier’s excitement is the fact that he will have his older brother as his batting practice pitcher.

Frazier may not win the Home Run Derby, but with him, it is more about the distance the homers travel than the actual frequency.

He averages 401 feet per home run and even drilled one an astounding 446 feet earlier in the year, via Matt Snyder of CBS Sports. What’s more, he once hit a home run when he lost control of the bat, and it appeared as if he simply threw his bat at the ball. 

Sure, the fans will be thrilled by the player who hits the most homers, but the one who can hit the longest will certainly earn their support as well. No pressure Frazier.

 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Latest Rumblings from White Sox, Blue Jays and More

It’s an annual rite of passage for every single MLB season—July rolls around and the contenders and pretenders start to talk shop.

After all, those who see a chance at the World Series will typically give up young talent for established veterans, and the struggling clubs are more than happy to look toward the future with prospects. The trade between the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics that involved Jeff Samardzija was a perfect prototype for that exact situation.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the latest rumors as the trade deadline gradually approaches.

 

Chicago White Sox

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports filled fans in on some of the latest Chicago White Sox rumors:

The White Sox have struggled to stay near .500 all season, and they were on the wrong side of that line Monday.

The argument could be made that they are still in the American League Central race because they are less than nine games back, but given their inconsistency and the fact that the Detroit Tigers are in first place without a vintage season from ace Justin Verlander, it’s probably safe to say Chicago won’t be playing in October.

That’s why it makes some sense that Chicago is shopping Gordon Beckham. He isn’t that young anymore at 27, and he’s not exactly tearing up the league offensively at .244 with seven home runs and 24 RBI. If it can get anything in return in terms of young talent, Chicago has to jump on that.

It’s also smart for the White Sox to hang onto Jose Quintana.

He is only 25 years old and has a bright future ahead of him. He is pitching well this season and just shut out the Seattle Mariners in 7.2 innings in his last start. What’s more, young left-handed pitching is just so valuable in the league that even teams who are not in the race would be wise to hold onto it because it could help in future playoff pushes.

 

Aaron Hill and James Russell

The MLB Network's Peter Gammons provided the latest on Aaron Hill and James Russell:

This is a classic case of sellers looking to ship off veteran talent at the deadline. The Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t going anywhere this year as bottom-dwellers in their respective divisions and have an eye toward the future.

Hill is struggling a bit at the plate this year with an average south of .240 and six home runs. Perhaps a change of scenery could pay dividends for the career .271 hitter, who has always provided solid defense.

As for Russell, the southpaw seems to be the next domino in the Cubs’ fire sale.

They are clearly building for the future and loading up on prospects, and Russell could give a contender some much-needed help as a lefty specialist near the backend of the bullpen. Cubs team president Theo Epstein discussed the number of young prospects he has in the system because of moves that involved players like Russell, via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times

We’re not smart enough to know how all the pieces fit together, but it’s easy to be excited about a lot of the different permutations. I think we have a chance to have really good homegrown solutions at a lot of positions.

Of course, if teams want to talk to us about trades at some point, we have a nice inventory to discuss.

If Russell could net the Cubs some more prospects, Epstein and company will not hesitate to move him.

 

Chase Headley 

Morosi noted that a trade could be in the works between the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres:

The Blue Jays likely see a golden opportunity to seize a division title this year because the typically dominant Yankees and Red Sox are struggling, but the Edwin Encarnacion injury is major setback. They could really use another bat in the lineup while he is on the disabled list.

Chase Headley has underperformed this season at the dish with a .229 average, six home runs and 27 RBI, but he would give Toronto a short-term fill-in who has a history of producing.

Headley is not that far removed from 2012, when he was one of the best hitters in all of baseball and slugged 31 home runs and drove in 115 RBI as a force in the middle of the Padres lineup. 

If Toronto could get even half of that while Encarnacion is out, it could make a charge at the Baltimore Orioles.

 

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MLB Power Rankings 2014: Where Every Team Stands as All-Star Game Approaches

The word parity gets thrown around far too often in sports, but it truly does apply to the 2014 MLB season.

Entering play Monday, there were the six first-place teams and 17 teams within 10 games of them. Given the extra wild-card spot in the playoffs now, it will be difficult to separate some of the buyers and sellers when the trade deadline rolls around.

With that in mind, here is a look at the updated power rankings with the All-Star Game right around the corner. 

 

No. 28 Chicago Cubs

Look at this as something of a therapy session, Cubs fans (and honestly, don’t all Cubs fans need some type of therapy?). 

Trading Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel was the final nail in the coffin to the 2014 season, but the future is about as bright as it comes in the majors. Starlin Castro is heading to the All-Star Game, and Anthony Rizzo is one of the candidates in the final fan vote, and they represent just two of the building blocks in the organization.

Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus pointed out just how many prospects are waiting in the wings after the acquisition of Addison Russell from the Oakland Athletics:

Hammel was never supposed to be anything more than a one-year rental, and Chicago got the most it possibly could out of him. Samardzija is certainly a bit more painful because he realistically could have been a building block, but the prospects weren’t going to peak at the same time as the 29-year-old hurler. 

With Russell, Castro, Rizzo, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler, among others, the Cubs won’t be this low for long in these power rankings. Now all they have to do is find some young pitching.

 

No. 16 New York Yankees

The New York Yankees stand out on this list simply because they aren’t supposed to be in the bottom half.

After all, it’s the Yankees.

They are looking up at the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays in a unusually weak American League East and still have a chance to make a postseason push, but they rank in the bottom half of the majors in runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

The pitching, outside of Masahiro Tanaka, has been just as mediocre, if not worse. Now it looks as if C.C. Sabathia is out for the year as well, as manager Joe Girardi said, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News: “I’m sure surgery is possible. They’ve got to talk about it and determine what’s next.”

New York is just mired in mediocrity, and it doesn’t look like things will improve much as the year continues. 

This season is and was all about Derek Jeter’s farewell tour, but it just doesn’t feel right that he may not make the playoffs in his final season.

 

No. 1 Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics are going to be more than well represented at the All-Star Game.

They have seven All-Stars if you want to get technical about it. Samardzija was elected to the National League team as a Cub, so we are going to count him here. Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, Derek Norris, Brandon Moss, Scott Kazmir and Sean Doolittle round out the rest of the list.

The A’s were arguably the best team in the majors before acquiring two pitchers with sub-3.00 ERAs. Now they are even better.

Oakland’s rotation will include Samardzija, Hammel, Kazmir and Sonny Gray, which is simply unfair. It will be incredibly difficult for anyone to top that in a playoff series, where pitching is so important.

The thought here is that the Detroit Tigers may represent the biggest challenge in the American League going forward, but that is only if Justin Verlander returns to his typical incredible form.

Oakland is second in the majors in ERA, and the no-name lineup leads the league in runs and is third in the Moneyball favorite on-base percentage. 

There is simply more talent in this club than any other in the league.

 

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AL All-Stars 2014: Biggest Snubs from the Junior Circuit

Perhaps the only thing more certain about the 2014 MLB All-Star Game heading into the year than the presence of Derek Jeter in the starting lineup was the fact that there would be a notable list of players left off the respective rosters.

After all, there is for every All-Star Game in every single sport every single year.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the biggest snubs from the American League side. For the purpose of this exercise, the players on the final fan vote are not considered snubs, and all stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and ESPN.com entering play Monday.

 

Ian Kinsler, Second Baseman, Detroit Tigers

Remember when the Detroit Tigers traded slugger Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler, and it looked like their lineup may suffer because of it?

Not so much.

Kinsler’s name is littered all over the American League leaderboard. His 3.7 wins above replacement (WAR) rank fourth among AL position players, his 1.3 defensive WAR ranks sixth, his 60 runs scored rank second, his 107 hits are good enough for fifth, his 170 total bases rank eighth, his 26 doubles rank second and his 39 extra-base hits rank seventh.

His .302 batting average pairs nicely with his 11 home runs and 45 RBI as well.

Kinsler breathed life into Detroit’s offense and is a major reason why the Tigers have a stranglehold on the American League Central. Yes, the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians are within striking distance, but assuming good health, Detroit is going to win that division.

Kinsler is a superstar on defense and with the bat in his hands, and he deserves to be in the All-Star Game.

 

Wade Davis, Relief Pitcher, Kansas City Royals

Matt Snyder of CBS Sports points out just why Wade Davis should be an All-Star:

Davis is one of baseballs best setup men, sitting with a 1.23 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 58 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. He has 16 holds against two blown saves. Get this: He hasnt allowed a single extra-base hit all season and is holding opposing hitters to a .120/.234/.120 line.

It’s not fair for Davis, but the deck is simply stacked against him when it comes to earning a spot on the roster.

He plays for Kansas City, so he isn’t in the spotlight very often. What’s more, he is a setup man, which is simply not as sexy of a position as closer in many baseball circles.

Davis is a strikeout machine who just doesn’t allow solid contact. If we are truly working under the assumption that this game means something with World Series home-field lingering over it, National League hitters will be relieved that they don’t have to face him with the game on line.

 

Erick Aybar, Shortstop, Los Angeles Angels

Erick Aybar’s name is not on this list to say that Jeter should or shouldn’t be in the game. There will be plenty of that type of debate throughout the week leading up to the event, and it’s really not the worst thing in the world if an all-time great player gets the All-Star recognition one last time from the fans and the media for an incredible career.

After all, we are still talking about what basically amounts to an exhibition game, even if World Series home-field advantage is on the line.

Jeter’s merits aside, Aybar deserves to be at the All-Star Game. In a Los Angeles Angels lineup that has so many marquee names in it, Aybar stands out on defense and offense. He does a little bit of everything and has a .278 batting average, .315 on-base percentage and .414 slugging percentage.

Throw in 21 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 43 RBI, 45 runs and 11 steals, and it’s clear what type of impact player we are discussing.

His head coach, Mike Scioscia, certainly thinks Aybar should be there, via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register:

He should be an All-Star. ... There is no doubt he’s playing at the level he’s capable of defensively. This guy is a premium defender. And as he’s gotten into the season and gotten healthy, you are seeing his offensive side.

Hard to argue with the manager.

 

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Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel Sent to Athletics in Multi-Player Trade

The Oakland Athletics are sitting atop the American League West as the 2014 MLB season approaches the All-Star break. After reportedly acquiring Chicago Cubs pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel on Friday, their grip on the division may only grow stronger.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports and Keith Law of ESPN updated fans on the proceedings, while the MLB itself noted that the deal was official:

The Cubs and A's both took to Twitter to confirm the deal, as well:

Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reports there will be a player to be named later sent to Chicago as well:

Joe Stiglich of Comcast SportsNet reports Tommy Milone has been sent down as a result of the trade:

MLB.com reports when we can expect Samardzija to make his A's debut:

John Hickey of Bay Area News Group confirms that expectation:

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes that the Yankees were in the hunt for the Cubs' talented pitchers:

The Cubs may be in last place, but it is of no fault of Samardzija and Hammel. Samardzija sports a sparkling 2.83 ERA despite his 2-7 record, while Hammel comes to Oakland with a 2.98 ERA and an 8-5 record.

Both pitchers will likely be thrilled if and when they receive more run support in Oakland. The A’s lead the MLB in total runs scored, which will be a nice change for the two hurlers. For perspective, Chicago ranks an abysmal 25th.

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports and Rosenthal provided some more updates:

The addition of Samardzija and Hammel makes what was already one of the league’s best pitching staffs all the more dangerous. The A’s already feature the likes of Scott Kazmir and Sonny Gray and rank fourth in the league in team ERA and fifth in quality starts. A starting rotation that possibly include those four names will be difficult to beat in the regular season and in any future playoff series.

Good luck to the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners trying to catch Oakland now.

As for the Cubs, this move was clearly made with the future in mind. Ever since Theo Epstein took over on the North Side, there has been a clear effort directed toward building a formidable farm system and solid foundation. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus noted just how many talented prospects the Cubs have now, including the young and talented Addison Russell:

Interestingly enough, relief pitcher James Russell didn't seem too keen on the idea of the Cubs trading Samardzija recently, via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times:

It’ll definitely be different if a guy like Jeff leaves. He’s been one of the staples around here. You just kind of put his face with the Cubs team. It’d be definite culture change.

It’d be like taking one step forward and 10 steps back.

Additionally, Javier Baez and Starlin Castro are assumed to be key pieces in the middle infield for years to come in Chicago, so the inclusion of shortstop Addison Russell in this trade is sure to raise some eyebrows. However, Matt Snyder of CBS Sports answered any possible questions that would arise from that logjam:

As for why the Cubs would want to trade for a shortstop when they have All-Star-caliber Starlin Castro in the majors and another top-10 prospect in Javier Baez at Triple-A, it's rather simple. First of all, sometimes prospects (Baez?) end up as busts. If they don't, position changes could be in order. And if there's a true logjam -- if no one is a bust and no one fits as a position change guy -- trades could be made to shore up other holes at that time. Essentially, if you can get a top-10 prospect, you get him without regard for where he plays.

For as loaded as the Cubs’ farm system is in the offense department though, they could use some more talented pitchers if they hope to one day snap their World Series curse.

Otherwise, Chicago may have to beat everyone 10-9 if it hopes to make its way back to the playoffs sooner rather than later.

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